Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, PAN has been convening standing meetings with Executive Directors and program leads of our member and allied organizations – and at that table we repeatedly heard about the challenges in accessing safer supply across BC.
Last week PAN sent a letter to Minister Dix (Minister of Health) and Minister Farnworth (Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General) that detailed our collective concerns regarding the roll-out of safer supply during the COVID-19 emergency – including a lack of a sufficient number of prescribers, a lack of pharmacists, overly conservative interpretation of the guidance and a lack of safe supply, information and supports for people who use stimulants and other substances.
While we appreciate the government’s leadership in introducing the guidance – it is clear that the current patchwork approach is not working. In May the province recorded 170 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths — the highest monthly total ever recorded – 5.5 deaths a day.
We can report that we now have a meeting scheduled with staff of Minister Dix’s office in July. We were invited to this meeting to discuss a previous letter sent by PAN to Minister Dix in February, where we outlined the need for a comprehensive provincial strategy vis-à-vis HIV and AIDS in this province. However, as we have been invited to set the agenda for the July meeting, and will look to bring the top concerns from both letters to their attention and will be sure to use this opportunity to raise shared concerns of our membership regarding safer supply.